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April 21, 2010

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New guides in French, English

A free guidebook advising foreigners on almost every aspect of their life in Shanghai, from finding an apartment to starting a business and learning Chinese, has been launched in French and English.

The second edition of the French-language version of the guidebook and the first edition of the English version came out this week.

By the end of the month, more than 40,000 copies of the guidebook, "The Milu," will be available across the city at foreign consulates, chambers of commerce and expatriate associations.

The foreword was written by French Consul General Thierry Mathou, and the American, German and French consulates are among the organizations supporting the guide.

"The goal of the guidebook is to help people who are new to Shanghai, whatever their status," says Manuel Ramos, director of Optimeast International and founder of "The Milu" guides.

"Whether you are a trailing spouse, student, young professional or entrepreneur there will be relevant, verified information that has been compiled by experts living in Shanghai."

As in previous years, the book provides basic information on China's laws and requirements for foreigners.

Details on how to register with police, and with the relevant consulates is provided as is information on China's various visas for foreigners and the potential consequences if foreigners overstay their visa.

Almost every aspect of living in Shanghai is then covered in following chapters, from finding accommodation and dealing with landlords to information on schools, health and medical care.

This year, the guidebook has added a World Expo 2010 chapter providing practical information on the different zones, topics and themes of Expo.

A new chapter is dedicated to doing business in Shanghai.

"We provide entrepreneurs basic business information like how to set up an office, taxation, accountancy requirements, human resource management and we also discuss intellectual property issues," Ramos says.

"But we also give basic information on the job market here so people can know what kinds of work profiles are popular."

The guidebook is available online and Ramos says he hopes sections, such as the job market in Shanghai, will give foreigners heading to the city good information about whether they have the kinds of credentials necessary to build a new life here.

"Some people think that Shanghai is some kind of El Dorado and everyone is making money here, but it is a tough business environment," he says.

As in the previous edition, artist Sylvain Limousi has drawn around 20 striking cartoons that provide simple, easy-to-understand scenarios that demonstrate particular topics.

"This year we did more cartoons, they are a great way to demonstrate some of the main points of the guidebook," Ramos says.

Each of the sections comes with English or French, pinyin and Chinese characters for major headings, names and topics.

"Hopefully people can try to say the word and if that fails they can always point it out to a Chinese speaker," says Ramos.

The book will be available from the end of April. Custom-made corporate guides can be made to order as gifts.

Some of the sales proceeds go toward Lifeline Shanghai, an English-language telephone counseling hotline.

The guidebook is also available online and further information can be obtained by visiting


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